And when, at length, through the agency of geography and the other means at hand, our young people have achieved the endowment of appreciation, life will be for them a fuller and richer experience and they will be better fitted to play their parts as intelligent, cultivated men and women. The gateways will stand wide open through which they can enter into the palace of life to revel in all its beauteous splendor. They will receive a welcome into the friendship of the worthy good and great of all ages. When they have gained an appreciation of the real meaning of literature, children who have become immortal will cluster about them and nestle close in their thoughts and affections,—Tiny Tim, Little Jo, Little Nell, Little Boy Blue, and Eppie. A visitor in Turner’s studio once said to the artist, “Really, Mr. Turner, I can’t see in nature the colors you portray on canvas.” Whereupon the artist replied, “Don’t you wish you could?” When our pupils gain the ability to read and enjoy the message of the artist they will be able to hold communion with Raphael, Michael Angelo, Murillo, Rembrandt, Rosa Bonheur, Titian, Corot, Andrea del Sarto, Correggio, Fra Angelico, and Ghiberti. In the realms of poetry they will be able to hold agreeable converse with Shelley, Keats, Southey, Mrs. Browning, Milton, Victor Hugo, Hawthorne, Poe, and Shakespeare. And when the great procession of artists, poets, scientists, historians, dramatists, statesmen, and philanthropists file by to greet their gaze, entranced they will be able to applaud.
Browning says, “’Tis not what man Does which exalts him, but what man Would do.” The boy who has acquired the habit of wishing ardently in right directions is well on the way toward becoming educated. For earnest wishing precedes and conditions every achievement that is worthy the name. The man who does not wish does not achieve, and the man who does wish with persistency and consistency does not fail of achievement. Had Columbus not wished with consuming ardor to circumnavigate the globe, he would never have encountered America. The Atlantic cable figured in the dreams and wishes of Cyrus W. Field long before even the preliminaries became realities. The wish evermore precedes the blueprint. It required forty-two years for Ghiberti to translate his dream into the reality that we know as the bronze doors of the Baptistry. But had there been no dreams there had been no bronze doors, and the world of art would have been the poorer. Every tunnel that pierces a mountain; every bridge that spans a river; every building whose turrets pierce the sky; every invention that lifts a burden from the shoulders of humanity; every reform that gilds the world with the glow of hope, was preceded by a wish whose gossamer strands were woven in a human brain. The Red Cross of today is but a dream of Henri Dunant realized and grown large.